Meet LaTisha “Tish” Styles, a nationally recognized millennial personal finance expert, author, and TV personality. As the founder of Financial Success Media, LLC, LaTisha has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable brands like Fidelity Investments, Discover & PNC Bank and has been featured in The Economist, quoted in Forbes, and mentioned in U.S. News and World Report as a top personal finance expert to follow on Twitter. Latisha created her "own job" after she was unable to find a job after graduating college. Although she later found a full time job, she kept up her side hustle and eventually transitioned into working full time for herself. In this interview Latisha shares how she determined how to charge what she was worth, advice for women wanting to start their own business, tips on managing your business finances and so much more - Enjoy!
Begin with the end in mind. I say that often but I want to explain what that means to a new business owner - I mean to start with your "why". What makes you want to start a business? How do your values align with your business goal?
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services or products do you offer?
My name is LaTisha Styles and I'm the founder of Young Finances and the President of Financial Success Media, LLC, a digital marketing firm. I help young professionals discover their inner entrepreneur at Young Finances and my marketing firm works with emerging entrepreneurs helping them grow an online platform so they can get noticed and gain clients.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I started my business directly out of college. I graduated with a Finance degree in May of 2010 and I was having a hard time finding a job in my career field. So I thought I would just create my own job and I started blogging about investing. Then, I found a full time job but I kept up my "side-hustle" growing the blog on nights and weekends (and sometimes during my lunch break.)
After a few years, my side-hustle income started to grow significantly and I decided to make the transition into working for myself full time.
Do you have any special training?
I have a Spanish and Finance degree but most of the knowledge that I use in my marketing business has been learned through trial and error. I also successfully completed Level 1 of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Exam, but once I left my job I decided not to complete the charter. However, on a daily basis, I do use the Inbound Marketing Certification that I earned.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is the fact that I can say I've created an asset and a stream of income for myself. I can keep the asset, sell it, or grow it myself. And the stream of income is one that I can take with me anywhere. Especially since most of my business is conducted online; I have the ability to work from anywhere.
How soon after you started did you start seeing profits? Or when do you project to begin earning a profit?
I started seeing profits fairly quickly once I started my blog. However, that doesn't account for taking a salary. I started taking a salary about 3 years in and that is when I can truly say that my business was profitable.
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
Pricing is always a tough conversation to have because most of the time we as business owners have such a passion for what we do, it's difficult to determine a price. Once I learned to work backwards from my costs of delivering the service setting my pricing was a bit easier. I use that and I determine what my services are worth by looking at the cost of NOT doing business with me. With marketing it's easy to determine because on average I can help my clients gain 2-3 clients when they work with me. So I can factor that into the cost of doing business with me.
What mistakes, if any, have you made with your business? What have some of your biggest challenges been? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
I made the mistake early on of not asking for help. I am the type of person that prefers to do and learn on my own. I dislike asking for help because I don't want to hear "no" and also because it makes me feel incompetent. But in the past few years I've overcome those lies that were holding me back from greatness. I invested in a course to move my business forward as well as a coach to help me stay on track. And that has made all the difference.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful business?
The willingness to take action and consistently set goals is one of the most important elements of running a successful business. Without goals and a clear focus, you're just moving. And you could be running in circles without even knowing it. But with a clear set of goals and the willingness to take action to reach those goals, you can be sure that you're moving towards success.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Begin with the end in mind. I say that often but I want to explain what that means to a new business owner. I mean to start with your "why". What makes you want to start a business? How do your values align with your business goal? For example, I started my business so I could create a stream of income for myself and work from home with my children if I wanted to. That drives everything I do. My secondary goal is to help women entrepreneurs succeed. We're one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs but still we are underrepresented when it comes to venture capitalism. There's no reason we can't succeed and build assets of our own.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
For the first few months it's important to track your income and expenses on your own. (Or if you decide to hire an accountant, get monthly reports.) Then try to minimize recurring business expenses. If you see that something is working on the revenue side, put more effort there. As a small business owner you have to quickly determine what is working and what is not working. That is the only way to survive. Most businesses run out of cash before they even have a chance to succeed. So keep your overhead low and build and grow.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
I plan my work schedule in advance. Because I work from home I can begin working at any time and stop working at any time. That is a good and bad thing because in the past sometimes I've worked until bedtime. Now I have certain hours that I try to hold and I take Saturdays off to connect with friends or just relax.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I expect to be living in another country, teaching English to native Spanish speakers. That's been one of my goals since I graduated with my Spanish degree but I had to make some financial decisions first before I could make it happen.
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I've been participating in Crossfit for a year now and I love it! I can deadlift 195lbs, clean & jerk 100lbs, and press 70lbs overhead. But most importantly, doing Crossfit has shown me that if I just push myself a little harder I am capable of so much more than I think. It definitely carries over into my work life.
How can readers find you?
To learn more about me and how I grew my business from the first $29 to $5,000+ per month head over to Youngfinances.com/gift to get the video series. If you want to chat, I'm most active on Facebook at Facebook.com/LaTishaTV
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview Latisha!